Oct 19, 2012

Golf Balls & the Important Things in Life - What Really Matters 5 Years Later

When a friend shared this awesome allegory with me on Facebook recently, I thought it sounded familiar.

I did a bit of research and sure enough, it was something I posted here ...just over five years ago.

As I now remember, the quaint, quality-of-life reminder was just what I needed back then ... and I've got to say, it feels equally pertinent today.  Hence it's re-publication now.

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day isn't enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee... and the golf balls. 

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open area between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes."

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize
that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things...your
family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions...and if
everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your home and perhaps your car.

The sand is everything else...the small stuff. "If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Enjoy a romantic dinner with the one you love. Play another 9 or 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the faucet.

Take care of the golf balls first...the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.


  1. This election season has gotten me quite depressed as I don't see much hope in either of the presidential candidates and candidates for our local offices aren't much better, in fact many are worse. That said, there are so many wonderful & important thingsto care about, that are much more worthwhile. This post reminded me of that. Thanks :)

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  3. Great post! Such an eye opener :)

  4. yes, i remember seeing this back then, and i enjoyed it, thank you for sharing it and reminding me of it again


  5. well, golf growl, you are NOT alone, as i myself am, as are many if not most, just plain tired of all the drama, and bickering, and futile endless talks go nowhere, while so much of our resources are simply squandered away and there is NO future planning at all, despite EVERY single candidates talk about "tomorrow"

    i call it the tappan zee bridge theory: which proves political kick-the-can-down-the-road mentality prevails - for fifty years politicians have known the bridge would only have a lifespan of fifty years because the ORIGINAL builders and architects said so - yet have any funds been set aside in that fifty years ? or alternative plans been implimented ? or new solutions and ideas come to light ?

    it's simply hopeless and yes very depressing


  6. Wonderful and most true fact of life and it is explained very beautifully. Thanks for sharing this one.


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